Nasar Ahmed Choudhury, program organizer of Dhaka Radio Station in 1971, looks back at the history of recording Bangabandhu's historic 7th March speech.
One of my closest friends always used to tell me jokingly, “Pal, we achieved the liberation for you, if you hadn’t taped the speech of father-of-the-nation Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and played it on the Radio; people of our country would never have heard about the declaration of Independence, consequently they could not have fought for liberation”- I said” its not exactly so, dear”, the liberation was achieved solely due to the sacrifice of the struggling people for nine months, whatever I did was for the love for my country and our freedom.
Before the onset of the liberation, the preparations were going on in full swing, as such the Radio played a significant role to support the movement. I used to be the Program Organizer in those days in the then Radio Pakistan Dhaka. My duty was to record all the events that took place outdoors and broadcast it from the Radio; Mir Raihan had assisted me too, as he was the Program Producer.
After winning the election, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was supposed to be the Prime Minister of Pakistan, but somehow he along with the student leaders could sense that it was not going to be so. West Pakistan would never allow such a thing to take place. Thus, we started to undertake the liberation movement. East Pakistan Radio staff did not falter behind – we took a very bold step to change the name of our radio station “Radio Pakistan” to “Dhaka Betaar Kendro”, and subsequently started to broadcast programs with the new name. It was such an audacious role, I didn’t understand it then…Well, without the help of the Program, News and Engineering Department, such a feat could not have taken place. The names of these people are worth mentioning, who were actively engaged in carrying out this event.
Mr. Ashrafuzzaman Khan-DirectorMr. Ahmeduzzaman Asst. Director
Mr. Mofizul Huq Asst. Director
Mr. Mobzulul Hussain – Assistant Director
Mr. Saiful Bari- News Director
Mr. Jalaluddin Rumi – Program OrganizerMr. Ashfaqur Rahman Khan– Program OrganizerMr. Taher Sultan - Program Organizer
Mr. Shamsul Alam – Program Organizer
Mr. Kazi Rafique – Program OrganizerMr. Bahramuddin Siddiqui- Program OrganizerMr. Mir Raihan – Program ProducerMr. Faiz Ahmed Choudhury- Assistant News Director
Let me now shed some light on 1971’s historical 7th., March speech, of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The preparation to broadcast the speech directly from the Race Course Field was taken diligently. Mr. Ashrafuzaman Khan (Director, Radio Pakistan, Dhaka) formed a strong team of Radio officers and asked everyone to carry out their respective duties. I myself along with the Director and the Asst. Director Amheduzzaman got ready to take our positions on the stage.
I remember the name of a significant staff from the Engineering Dept., Mr. Samad. Below the stage were Shamsul Alam and Kazi Rafique, and at the Savar transmitting Center, Mir Raihan were posted along with the Engineering staff, Ashfaqur Rahman khan and Bahram Siddique were at the Dhaka Radio Station. From the morning it was being broadcast repeatedly, that the speech would be heard directly from the Race Course Field, subsequently the whole field was jam-packed with people.
We put the micro-phone into position; and with me, I kept a portable EMI tape-recorder. Bongobondhu Sk. Mujibur Rahman arrived a bit late that day, and as he was gearing up to deliver his speech we heard a plane zoom past over-head. It was the plane on which Lt. General Tikka Khan was supposed to arrive. The whole mob got fairly excited in the field. Bongobondhu had almost started his speech, when suddenly,we got a call from the duty-room through the intercom to stop broadcasting immedietely. Major. Siddique Salek threatened Ashfaqur Rahman…that, if we carried on with the live broadcasting of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s speech, they would blow up the Radio Station.
Abruptly, the broadcasting was stopped. Despite the threat, I continued to record the speech secretly on my own. Mr. Ahmaduzzaman (Asst. Director) quickly scribbled on a piece of paper that the Army strictly forbade us to broadcast the speech and handed it to the Radio Director; who then passed it on to the member of the Parliament of Tangail. The speech was already mid-way when it reached Bongobondhu’s hand. Those of you who were present there that day, must recall that at one point Bongobondhu said…”Just now, I have been informed that they are preventing the media to broadcast my speech”- He then requested the staff of the Radio and Television not to report to work unless they allow us to broadcast the speech over the media.
The offices and administration were shut down immediately according to his request, but in the meantime, the entire mob in the field got panicky hearing the declaration of independence, and started to run amock, dispursing which-ever way they could. Yet, I finished recording the whole speech and managed to slip both the tapes inside my shirt. Then I packed up the recorder-stand and descended from the stage to join with Alam, and Kazi Rafique on the ground - I also found the director standing there and went up to him and whispered “Sir, I have recorded the whole speech on tape”. He said “Good Job” and praised me profusely. Then he conveyed the message to the Joint Secretary, Ministry of Information about it who was present there and asked him what should be our next step.
The Joint Secratary ordered us to leave the place and run away, but not to our homes; and added should there be any question, tell them, “I said so!” We all went to Kazi Rafique’s house in Hatirpul and from there, we instructed the Savar Transmitting Service to shut down the transmission. Within minutes the broadcasting went off the air. I now realized the grave importance of shutting down the Radio Broadcast. It sent a very strong message to the W. Pakistanis because the only link they had between them, was the Radio, has been totally severed. They got restless to learn as to what was happening in East. Pakistan.
We spent the entire night at Kazi Rafique’s house and eventually learned that the Army got hold of the Director of Radio Ashrafuzzaman Khan and surrendered to him fully. They even allowed the Director to broadcast whatever he wanted to, in return for the favor, that the Radio Station should not be shut down.
Mr. Ashrafuzzaman Khan came to us and announced that, “Victory is finally ours, the army has surrendered to us fully, but I told them that its not possible to restart the transmission right away, it has to be done tomorrow and on the pre-condition that you must let us broadcast Shiekh Mujib’s speech.” They agreed. The preparation for the whole event started to take place, the Engineering Dept., was notified accordingly to restart the transmission again in the morning, my recorded tapes were played after repeated announcements to the public.
Gradually the people of East Pakistan geared up and made all the arrangements for the fight for liberation. From then onwards all the speech of Bongobobdhu which was delivered from his residence at Road-32 Dhanmondi and other places were recorded and broadcast without any objection from the Army.